BRANDE : Employee Referral Programs

April 13, 2015

Employee Engagement 101

A new study from Gallup found that 51% of American workers are “not engaged” in their jobs. 17% were “actively disengaged.” Such employees hurt their company’s morale, productivity, retention, and bottom line. Luckily, there a number of ways to engage employees and turn these negatives into positives. Here’s an overview.

A User-Friendly Intranet

Intranets used to be boring, static platforms where employees would occasionally visit to read about their benefits and find departmental phone numbers. Now, savvy organizations use intranets to connect with employees every day. They also allow workers to talk back to the company, in the form of surveys and polls. And intranets are now much more than text. They can include video of the CEO’s speeches and photos of company events. Some even allow employees to post their own photos and other content. IBM’s robust intranet mimics some of Facebook’s functions, letting employees reward each other and even mentor each other. A social, multimedia intranet helps employees feel more connected to their colleagues, to offices in other cities, and to the larger company mission.

A Rewarding Employee Referral Program

An ERP is a great way to engage employees. Asking them to help find the next generation of workers is very empowering. The materials you provide them with — from calling cards to YouTube links — reinforce the company brand and culture not just with job-seekers but with current employees, too. An employee referral program is easy to gamify (see below), which adds an element of fun while increasing urgency. By offering varied and thoughtful rewards, you can make every employee feel valued and special. Referrals have a higher retention rate than other hires (46% to 33% after one year) and are generally higher-quality hires. Another benefit: If the program goes well, employees end up working alongside their friends, which increases camaraderie and retention.

Making a Game of It

One of the latest tools in employee engagement is gamification, adding game mechanics to a non-game activity, like a sales contest. Savvy organizations are using gamification in numerous HR tasks. For example, Cricket Wireless gamified its training program, giving employees points and virtual badges as they passed training tasks. A leaderboard showed not just individual scores but also store-to-store rankings, giving employees a chance to team up and not just compete against each other. . St. Lawrence College used gamification to improve employee wellness,  awarding points when workers competed in fitness challenges, took health quizzes, or met their goals. The result went far beyond wellness: 88% of SLC workers said the program improved their sense of teamwork and collaboration.

Internal Communications That Really Communicate

Intranets are just one way to engage employees through internal communications. Many companies have found success with full internal social networks like Yammer, Chatter, or MangoApps. They let employees collaborate in a social setting that takes the place of emails and meetings, which often slow productivity. You can also take your internal communications mobile, sending text messages to employees. There’s nothing to design, and open rates are often better than email because the message because comes to employees’ personal device. You can innovate in other ways, too — who says an employee newsletter has to be a piece of paper distributed once a month? What if it was a video? Or a Pinterest board curated by a different employee each week? Any new idea that supports employee endeavors, recognizes their achievements, and increases collaboration will keep workers engaged. They’ll know you value their work and their time.

These four tactics can help your organization reinforce your company culture and employer brand every day. They reach employees in innovative ways and reward them for their efforts. They create a dialogue so that workers feel valued and heard.

Brandemix is an expert at internal communications, employee referral programs, intranets, and gamification. If you’d like to implement any of these into your employee engagement strategy, give us a call.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.

April 25, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Gamification for Recruiting

Director of Interactive Branding Jason Ginsburg explains what gamification is and how HR professionals can use it for recruiting, onboarding, training, and employee referral programs.

Register for Jason’s FREE webinar, Socialize Your Talent Strategy, presented Monday, April 29, at HR.com.

January 9, 2013

Bonus Reel: How to Ruin Your Employee Referral Program

January 7, 2013

How to Ruin Your Employee Referral Program

According to CareerXroads, 28% of external hires in 2011 were referrals, and that number gets even larger when you factor in internal referrals. An employee referral program is a fantastic way to find talent that fits your culture while strengthening your employer brand with your current workers. It decreases cost per hire, time to hire, and turnover.
But just as there are many ways to create an effective ERP, there are plenty of ways to screw it up. Here are the most popular ones – make sure you avoid them.
Forget about it.
We’ve all seen this happen to company initiatives. Management makes a big announcement, holds a splashy launch event, and then…nothing. No reminders, no follow-ups, no mention of a deadline. No one announces the winners – if there are any. Eventually, the program dies a quiet death. To avoid this pitfall, give the program a catchy name with a slogan that reflects your employer brand (like we did for Kaplan, below). Announce winners and new hires as soon as possible, and give regular reminders to employees. Some workers respond to scorecards and leaderboards, which can be real or virtual.

Facebook ad that Brandemix created for Kaplan’s ERP

Don’t help employees.
It’s not enough to just tell your workers, “Go talk to your friends!” You have to give them support. Create badges they can post on their Facebook pages, provide short links to use on Twitter, and give them YouTube videos they can send in an email. You can even give them actual cards or certificates to hand out; they’ll feel like Santa Claus. Guarantee interviews for all referrals, so employees know their friends will make the first cut. And if your careers site is boring or complicated, create a microsite just for the program

Make it complicated.
You’re asking employees to spend their free time helping you, so why make it complicated? Strict or obscure rules – like “the referral should not have worked for a competitor in the last three years” – discourage employees. Some organizations forbid managers or the entire HR department from participating, which just creates envy and dissent. And don’t make employees wait too long for their reward; how excited would yoube if you had won $100…which you’ll get after the new hire has worked for 90 days and then two pay periods later?

Give pathetic rewards.
You’re saving potentially thousands of dollars on a hire, so you can give more than a $25 gift card to the employee who went and above and beyond to improve the team. Publicize the winners to through every internal channel so that other employees will want to double their efforts. If you can’t award large payouts or flashy prizes, there are plenty of low-cost alternatives, such as a premium parking space, lunch with the CEO, or extra/preferential vacation time. No matter what the prize, make the employee feel special and appreciated, which helps not only the ERP but your organization’s morale as well.
And don’t forget to promote the ERP externally, to all your brand’s fans, customers, and applicants. Also, give feedback to employees whose referrals didn’t get hired, so they’ll know what to look for in the future.
Employee referral programs turn your employees into brand ambassadors externally and generate team spirit internally. They’re cost-effective and increase the odds of creating the culture you want in your workplace. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be well on your way – but if you need additional help, we at Brandemix are experts. And we’d love to hear from you.
October 15, 2012

4 Things to Make Sure Your Boss Knows About Employer Branding (The 5th is Optional)

“Employer branding is the new black,” according to George Anders’ recent article on Forbes.com. LinkedIn is spreading the word about the significance of having a strong employer brand while also providing more tools and resources to help companies promote one on their platform.

So you’re not Apple, Amazon, Deloitte, or Disney. Don’t despair. That doesn’t mean you can’t have an employer brand or employer value proposition of your own. 

Here are 4 things to tell your boss when you’re putting it into your 2013 budget:

It’s not a headline or tagline within your recruitment marketing materials.

Your employer brand is the essence of the employer/employee contract. It contains the reasons people join your company and the reasons they stay. Intuitively this information may be known to some or all of your organization, but going through the exercise of defining your brand architecture, your differentiators, and your employer value proposition will make sure that you’re all speaking in one voice. 

Once this is defined, it may never appear in any of your recruitment marketing materials or internal communications. But the essence of the employer value proposition can be communicated in a multitude of ways, varying by business unit, country, or corporate initiative.

It makes the company money.

A well-defined employer brand will be integrated with the business strategy and articulate the shared responsibilities for achieving success. The ROI is not an HR metric (cost-per-hire, time-to-fill) but rather a metric of revenue growth.

In March 1994, the Harvard Business Review wrote about the service-profit chain. Employee satisfaction drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue growth. This relationship still holds true today. Employer branding fuels employee engagement, which fosters productivity, which fuels profitability.

It saves the company money.

Good employer branding connects employees with cultures, reducing the chance of a hiring misfire. There is transparency in the employer-employee contract and everyone knows the deal going in. Both turnover rates and recruiting costs go down.

It doesn’t cost a lot of money.

Those of you who have attended my employer branding presentations already have many of the tools to do it yourself. But even going outside to bring in an employer branding expert doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. Communication audits and employer branding surveys can get the ball rolling, and executive interviews and internal focus groups can be selectively added. For a small research plan, costs can be as low as $10,000. If you’re lucky enough to get a bigger budget, I recommend you survey external constituents to really provide context and color to your internal findings.

You will have more fun at work.
Yes, it’s true. Once you have gone through your branding exercise and embedded the essence of your competitive differentiation into your careers website, videos, recruitment and social media marketing, and internal communications, you’re all set to reap the rewards. Happy hiring managers, increased employee referrals, more unsolicited resumés coming in from top talent, lower turnover, and greater retention. You’ll have more time to work on other critical initiatives like workforce planning, talent management, or diversity and inclusion. Or maybe just steal a few extra minutes to read a blog or two.